Remarks at Closing Ceremony of Nenyo City Good Governance Initiative

Closing Ceremony of Nenyo City Good Governance Initiative
Prefecture of Zio
February 9, 2019

 

Monsieur the Minister of Territorial Administration, Decentralization, and Local Collectives
Monsieur the Minister of Communication
Monsieur the Director General of ANASAP
Monsieur the Prefect of Zio
Monsieur the Mayor
Representatives of the diplomatic corps
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning and thank you all for being here. I am very proud to be with you to mark the closing of the Nenyo City pilot project, which I believe has been an a groundbreaking innovation in the evolution of decentralized, local government in Togo.

As the U.S. Ambassador, local government is something that is very near to my heart. In the U.S., we have a federal system – that means one national government, 50 states, and 85,000 local governments!

In the U.S. today – as in Togo and many other countries – politics at the national level are very contentious. Yet, this is not the case at the local level. In fact, four out of five Americans are very happy with their local government. Why? Because at the local level, government is all about effectiveness, or as we say in English, “getting the job done.” Local governments need to deliver essential services to their citizens like keeping the lights on, fixing potholes in the road, and ensuring public safety. If not, the local politicians will be voted out! This leads to a real focus on results and accountability. In the end, it produces a higher level of satisfaction with government and a higher level of civic engagement on the part of the citizenry.

This is why the decentralization process that is currently underway in Togo is so important. The U.S. embassy has been a strong supporter from the beginning of this process, and I would like to congratulate the government for its recent announcement that local elections will take place later this year.

As I said, the key to success for government at the local level is to be engaged constantly with the members of the community and to respond effectively and quickly to their needs. More and more, technology can play an important role in strengthening this engagement. Here in Tsevie, thanks to the initiative called Nenyo City, we have witnessed a great experiment to find out how technology can help a local government deliver effective services and stay connected to its citizens.

Over the past five months, the people of the community have used the Nenyo City application to report problems to the government, and the authorities have responded. For the first time, citizens have been able to track the progress of the resolution of their problems in real time.

Let me pause here and shine the spotlight on the team of young software developers who created Nenyo City. They belong to a community of coders called Minodoo. They have taken this project from a simple concept, to the design of the application, to the implementation of the project on the ground, and their work has been nothing short of extraordinary. These young people are the future of Togo, and from what I can see, the future is bright! If you agree let’s give them a big round of applause.

However, let me be clear: Technology can never make a government effective if the officials of that government lack the willingness and the devotion to serve the community. Fortunately, that is not the case here in the prefecture of Zio. In fact it is the opposite. We chose the Prefecture of Zio as the site of the Nenyo City pilot project because we know that the authorities here are committed to increasing civic engagement, improving transparency, and strengthening democracy.

Monsieur the Prefect, Monsieur the Mayor, I take this opportunity to applaud your leadership and your engagement in favor of transparent and efficient local governance.

To conclude, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to everyone involved in the implementation of this project. I hope it will serve as a reference and a model for the rest of the country as the decentralization process continues to unfold. Know that my team and I at the U.S. Embassy are there to support you every step of the way.

Thank you.